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Huntingburg Regional Airport

Huntingburg, Indiana

Roadway Tunnel/Runway Overpass

Engineer:

Woolpert

Installation:

June 2020

Technical Description:

• BEBO® Bridge Concrete Arch System
• Span: 36'
• Rise: 19’-6”
• Length: 180'

Located three miles south of Huntingburg, Indiana along US 231, the Huntingburg Regional Airport (HNB) began as a privately owned grass-dirt airstrip in 1939. Since then, it has evolved into a full service general aviation facility. After corporate customers expressed the desire to operate larger, longer-range jets, a longer runway was needed. More than 30 strategies were considered but, in the end, it was decided that building a tunnel under the new airfield would be the best solution. The county highway nearby, County Road 200 West, would run through the tunnel while Runway 9/27 would be constructed over it.

The Dubois County Airport Authority (DCAA), HNB's owner, hired Woolpert, an engineering consulting company, to manage the project. After considering options, it was decided that a 36' x 19'-6" BEBO® Bridge Concrete Arch System, 180' in length, was the best solution for the tunnel.

"We will be lowering County Road 200 West and creating a tunnel at the end of the runway, relocating the public and private utilities along that road and doing around 270,000 cubic yards worth of dirt work to create embankments of up to 30 feet,” Curtis Brown, Woolpert's Project Manager explained. “We also will conduct multiple safety improvements and upgrades, installing all new LED runway lights and additional navigational aids."

The first challenge of the project required the acquisition of 41 acres east of the current runway from a local landowner. The next challenge was deciding how to handle the necessary one year closure of CR 200 that would eventually run through the tunnel. With close coordination between the Dubois County Highway Department and local water, electric and telecommunications companies, Woolpert facilitated the construction of a temporary road through the airport to accommodate 12 local property owners as well as emergency departments. The final challenges occurred during site preparation when the construction crew discovered an old creek bed partially filled with water and a 9' wide x 6' deep coal seam. In order to remedy these situations, the creek bed was filled with soil excavated from the north side of the airfield and the coal was excavated until solid bedrock was reached.

After striking a deal with adjacent landowners, "we took some of their soil on hills, and flattened the land for them after completing the digging," stated Jeff Busing, project manager for Weddle Bros Construction Company, Inc, the project's contractor.

Once the site preparation concluded, the next step was the installation of the BEBO structure. After the precast concrete structure arrived on site, it was installed via crane in just two days. During this time, the runways were open for a limited schedule during the day and pilots were required to check in with the airport to coordinate arrival and departure times. Once all of the precast units were in place, the structure was backfilled with structural fill. In order to accommodate combines and other large farm equipment common in the area, the new structure has two 11' wide lanes and a 4' shoulder on either side.

During the second phase of the project, the runway was extended from 5,000' long to 5,501' and from 75' wide to 100' with improved drainage and updated lighting. “Both the tunnel itself and the land over it were engineered and constructed so that the runway could accommodate large corporate jets,” added Travis McQueen, Manager of HNB.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) financed 90% of the estimated $13.2 million project while the state and county each contributed 5%. In the end, the BEBO was a great solution for the project, and DCAA and Woolpert were pleased with the outcome.

"The extension and widening of Runway 9/27 at Huntingburg Airport is the most important infrastructure project in the southwest region of Indiana in 2021,” concluded Marty Blake, Manager of the Indiana Department of Transportation Office of Aviation. “This project was the first of its kind in the State of Indiana where a local road was tunneled for a runway.”

Technical Description:

• BEBO® Bridge Concrete Arch System
• Span: 36'
• Rise: 19’-6”
• Length: 180'

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